The secret to a great night's sleep

My toothpaste made me sleep walk…

Mum Kathryn Mead talks to sleep news about her childhood bedtime troubles, as we ask our sleep expert Dr Nerina how to combat sleepwalking!

Kathryn Mead

As a child Kathryn Mead would sit up in bed hurling blood curdling screams at her family but would be clueless of her night trauma in the mornings.

She would flee towards the stairs as she roamed the house in her sleep, and would terrify her sibling at bedtime.

Until one day her parents discovered the bizarre trigger to her continuous sleep walking - minty fresh toothpaste! 

Kathryn, from Chelmsford, Essex, was just nine-years-old when she first started sleep walking, she  can't recall any of the experience but remembers waking up to find her parents and little sister by her side in her bedroom.

During her childhood night walks Kathryn, 36, could be found walking around the family home or screaming at the top of her lungs and just minutes later be completely unaware of the horror her body and mind had been going through.

She said: "My family tell me I would scream like a scene from a horror movie. I would sit up and scream and for some reason insist my father couldn't come anywhere near me. It was very strange because I had a great relationship with my dad, he was lovely to me, but in my sleep he would frighten me. 

"I would wake up confused and scared. My mum would try and comfort me and say I'd had a bad dream to which I would often insist I hadn't and that I was completely unaware of what I had just been through.

"The scariest thing I ever did was attempt to escape down the stairs. My mum would have to run after me as I would get out of bed in complete slumber and run towards the stairs."

The mum-of-three says she remembered her parents trialling different aspects of her diet and lifestyle to try and find a solution - in the end the only thing that was new was her extra minty tooth paste. 

In attempt to help their little girl sleep they changed her toothpaste and over night she fell into a regular sleep pattern. 

Interestingly Kathryn discovered last year she has an allergy to mint - which her doctor believed could have been a trigger for her body's reaction in younger years - now she uses a fennel toothpaste instead. 

Kathryn- who is a director of Mead Logistics Ltd, alongside her husband - added: "Fortunately I haven't sleep walked since then but I do talk in my sleep occasionally.

"I have avoided the toothpaste since. Luckily none of my children have suffered from sleepwalking."  

Following our chat with Kathryn we asked our Silentnight sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, about triggers she believes often cause us to sleep walk. 

Here are her top tips to reduce the chances of suffering from the confusing predicament of sleepwalking.

 

  • CUT OUT THE CAFFEINE: Minimise stimulants such as caffeine, refined sugars and alcohol as they can exacerbate the parasomnia, such as nightmares, night terrors or sleepwalking. 

 

  • SWAP JAWS ON THE TELLY FOR PRIDE AND PREJUDICE IN BED: Avoid watching overstimulating or scary programmes or non-relaxing action books before going to bed to reduce the chances of sleepwalking. Why not read something relaxing instead. 

 

  • PRACTICE RELAXATION TECHNIQUES: Practices such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness or breathing techniques can help centre both your body and you mind, it lowers the heart rate and clears the brain of noise which may keep us awake.

 

  • CREATIVE TYPES DREAM: Part of what we often fail to identify in sleepwalkers is their creativity, and how often this can be an outlet for it. So channel that into something more positive, perhaps draw or sketch and get those ideas on paper. Unexpressed creativity can exacerbate these symptoms.

 

  • SEEK HELP: If your sleepwalking symptoms are related to stress or trauma, its important to seek supportive therapy. It can really help to write or talk about a recurring nightmare or what you are walking away from. Making sense of it will help to lessen intensity and frequency and help you learn how to relax. 

 

For more sleep tips please go to Dr Nerina's sleep toolkit…


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